Rainbow museums can protect buildings, ensure peace, rid history of biased writing, writes Shivaji Sarkar
The Prime Minister recently launched Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya on the occasion of Dr Ambedkar’s birthday on April 14, 2022. | Photo: Parveen Negi
There is churning. The monuments or sanctuaries captured, rebuilt or demolished by force have aroused emotions, apprehensions, doubts, societal and economic uncertainties. Only harmony can revive the fortunes of the country. Shouldn’t we build Rainbow Harmony houses or museums to preserve heritage and present them as the beginning of a new dawn?
Yes, the country needs harmony to boost the economy and preserve the hard historical process. The rainbow is the color of beauty and harmony in Indian society. Its absence has a severe impact, perhaps in terms of billions. After partition, armed gangs periodically attacked majority areas in many states. The 1986 Shankh Naad for Ram Janmabhoomi experienced a thaw. On the march he witnessed the demolition of the ancient Babri temple or structure, much against the wishes of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, archaeologist Swaraj Prakash Gupta and many Sangh luminaries, followed by marches, court cases, decisions and reconciliation for the temple and the mosque. The structure reminiscent of the historical power process is demolished. Gyanvapi raised ripples again.
RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat’s recent call, “Don’t look for Shivling in every mosque” is significant in addition to his assertion that all Indians have DNA. He is right to say that the Bamiyan Buddha explosions hurt everyone.
There is an agreement. Those who rake in the matter through court gates or otherwise and their opponents who have possession of the premises know the reality – these have been forcibly occupied and destroyed. Even prominent AMU Professor Irfan Habib, an expert on the matter, says it was part of past power games and demolitions are a reality. Absolutely right. Swarja Gupta in the middle of the demolition of Babri recovered important doorposts and other important inscriptions.
None, however, wants to give it up, be it Gyanvapi, Mathura or Bhojshala. Whether Gyanvapi has a Shivling or not, it would be difficult to culminate in another Vishwanath temple. According to the religious ethos, there should not be two shrines to one deity in one enclave. How would the sites taken over by Mathura be used? Such questions haunt all structures. The cost of maintaining social order remains high.
The solution to the Indian economy remains difficult. Inflation – retail at 7.79% and wholesale at 15.1% – is high. A small reduction in the additional excise duty on petroleum is a small relief. RBI pegs growth at 7.2%. Emotions and societal aberrations can interfere with the process.
Interestingly, the Gyanvapi cases begin with the Places of Worship Act 1991, the law which prohibits changes in the religious character of a shrine as it stood on August 15, 1947. It was demolished on September 2, 1669, by order of the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. . A court in Varanasi ordered the Archaeological Survey of India to survey the structure.
The Gyanvapi case is now encouraging the staking of claims to occupied structures for prayers, including the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Qutub Minar in Delhi and Lord Krishna’s birthplace, Mathura. He also stoked passion in Srirangapatna in Karnataka for the recovery of a Jamia Mosque and many other monuments.
Courts can follow the Ayodhya judgment process. Those who want possession act with emotional vengeance to restore them. Perhaps another phase of renovation, demolition and reconstruction may follow. It’s all about ego, passion and historical reality. This will not end the conflict. In the process, the economy, which is not in a happy shape, may thaw if not regress, conflicts, confusion and mutual mistrust may grow, and the nation may see volatile reactions. How much could the loss be? It depends on the intensity or lack thereof.
Shouldn’t she then be abandoned by those who possess and be possessed by aspirants? Certainly. All should come forward to create the preservation of the Harmony Museum. It is a composite culture. Be it Varanasi, Mathura, Moradabad, Meerut, Aligarh or any UP city, one community, somewhere Hindu the other Muslim, is the investor and the other provides the labor or the logistics. There is interdependence. A little uncertainty would put these places and many others in disarray. Community pressure prevents them from taking the supposedly rational step. None, including Habib, dare to speak.
Should Gyanvapi or other monuments like Mathura or Bhojshala suffer the same fate as the old Ram Lalla structure? It doesn’t have to be. These are property disputes. No member of the current generation assigns them. No one recognizes Aurangzeb or other tyrants. No one has the courage to oppose it openly either. Such situations impacted the working atmosphere in Varanasi, either out of exuberance or apprehension. The losses are unfathomable. It erodes society.
The cost of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is difficult to estimate. But if the court cases of the three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the Ram Lalla Virajman, separate arguments, law and order expenses, occasional violence or tensions in society are taken into account. account, that would be huge. The court cases alone would have cost millions. Add to that the many disruptions due to state-wide curfews, the riots in Mumbai, Aligarh and others, trains not stopping or stopping completely, business upheavals, the careful avoidance of members of different communities who depended on each other for sustenance and loss of wages. since 1991 – are not easy to understand. There were also losses of life. Now billions of rupees are also being poured into reconstruction. The divide remains clear, although RSS leader Mohan Bhagawat says the communities share the same DNA.
The path to solution may be simple but may not be easy to accept. The Quub complex, which is also in the eye of the storm, offers a way out. Inscriptions in the complex indicate that 27 temples were demolished. The ASI plate also mentions it.
They are heritage monuments. If the goods are handed over to one of the groups again, another process of distortion is likely to begin. The hurt feelings would get worse. Again, if documentations and evidence are lost, it can repeat the story of emotional outbursts in the future.
Once the problems of the shrines of Varanasi and Mathura are resolved, many such sites in other states could become part of the heritage harmony circuit by agreeing to preserve them as centers of representation of living history and of the reconciliation process.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has built a magnificent museum of prime ministers. If leaders of Hindu and Muslim communities were asked to have an agreed solution to preserve them as centers of heritage or melting pots of living history, it would rid the process of history writing of its biases. A harmonious process of community interaction can begin at these sites under the Archaeological Survey of India. These living museums of structures could be dubbed “Rainbow Harmony Houses or Museums” as places to interact and usher in a new era.
This New India would invite people around the world to experience the new way Indians can solve critical social problems that Northern Ireland’s walls of peace could not.
(The writer is a seasoned journalist, socio-political economy observer and media scholar)
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